Human extinction without a squeak?

by Michael Thomas

If environmental problems are so serious, if we are really threatened by global ecological collapse, why is no one doing anything about it?

Before I explain why, it is important to state that (1) ecosystems do not react linearly to change, but abruptly switch states (Schaeffer 2001), (2) that the global biosphere, or global network of ecosystems, is threatening to shift states (read: collapse) if just 7% more ecosystems shift states (collapse at 50% and we are currently at 43%) (Barnosky 2012), (3) managers, planners, and politicians are not coordinating with scientists or experts (Staudinger 2012), and (4) evolution is far less likely than extinction (Schwartz 2006).

So, why is no one doing anything about the very real issues threatening long term human survival? I think it is safe to qualify the situation as an emergency, and thus we should look at research into how people react in emergencies, or why they do not.

A 5-step process for helping during an emergency was first characterized by Darley and Latané in 1968.

The 1st step is to notice the emergency itself, which can be hindered by distractions or preoccupation. The 2nd step is to classify it as an emergency, meaning to recognize what is really going on, and this can be hindered by pluralistic ignorance — when a group of people do not notice an emergency because those around them are simultaneously not noticing or reacting to the emergency: it is thus assumed there is no emergency.

The 3rd step is to take responsibility in the emergency. Studies show that the more people present at an emergency, the lower the chance is that someone will help. This is known as the bystander effect and creates a diffusion of responsibility, which leads the individuals to feeling less responsible for what is going on: “not my problem.” This means that a lone individual is far more likely to help you than that same person within a group.

The 4th step is to know what to do, and the 5th step is to do it. But, even after taking responsibility and knowing what to do, it is possible someone will not help due to social inhibition. This is where the social context, or social norms, prevent or dissuade helping in the situation.

Most people are busy: they do not have time to think about world problems, let alone world problems which have yet to manifest. Most people do not realize how serious environmental problems are: they think the only problem facing us is global warming, and picture this as it becoming a little warmer in the summers. Most people feel like a faceless member of humanity with no reason to help solve these problems, and refrain from taking responsibility, even if they know what is going on.

Many people who know what is going on and have taken responsibility for helping, do not know what to do. They do not realize that even communicating with others about these problems, helping making others aware, taking the time to discuss this with people experiencing dissonance (will be explained in a different text) makes quite a difference.

When just 10% of the population holds an unshakable belief, then it quickly spreads to almost everyone (Szymanski 2011). If people understood what was going on then there would be more people taking responsibility, more people brainstorming over solutions, and more work being done to avoid global ecological collapse.

The only step left is to do it. So talk to others about these issues, to learn about them, and start taking steps towards solving problems. Taking steps towards preventing our own demise, taking steps towards pulling our collective head out of the sand.


(1) Schaeffer, Marten. 2001. “Catastrophic shift in ecosystem states” Nature Publishing Group.

(2) Barnosky et al. 2012. “Approaching a state shift in Earth´s biosphere.” Nature Publishing Group

(3) Schwartz. 2006. “Sudden Origins: A General Mechanism of Evolution Based on Stress Protein Concentration and Rapid Environmental Change”

(4) Staudinger, Michelle D et al. 2012. “Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services: Technical Input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment. Cooperative Report to the 2013 National Climate Assessment.”

(5) Darley, J.M., Latané, B. 1968. “Group Inhibition of Bystander Intervention in Emergencies.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 10(3), 215-221.

(6) Syzmanski. 2011. “Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas”


Michael Thomas hails from Boston, Massachusetts, but currently lives in Germany, where he studies biology. He is politically active and interested in working with anyone who shares his passion for humanity and truth. This essay originated at Exposing the Truth.

I’d like to think this space is a positive community that fosters discussion and learning. Asking honest questions is always encouraged. I expect civility in interactions and will tolerate absolutely no hate speech.

Comments 191

  • I wouldn’t say “no one” is doing anything — but I do empathize with the feeling. I agree with your conclusion — keep talking about it (or writing blogs like you and I do) and more than talking, listen! I found when I stopped shouting and did more listening, I learned better how to share what I know with others.

  • Well, I’ve certainly sent my fair share of hot air into the atmosphere talking about the fix we’re in and have met more blank faces than nods of agreement. Though finding people to nod in agreement is easy, that’s not really the point. One of the steps missed in recognizing an emergency is the worry if this is going to cost anything. If I act/don’t act will this cost/give me money/fame/a spot on TV? Where the hell is that fifteen minutes of fame I was promised anyway? I would hate to miss out. And as a matter of fact, the revolution will not be blogged.

  • Yes, most people are busy – even those that know and think about what’s going on. Now if we can just find another 9.9999%….Workin’ on it!

  • Kathy, thanks! :)
    In the previous thread, Kathy C says: the bad outweighs the good by a long shot when you take a global perspective.

    “Life is suffering,” Buddha once said,
    And since that popped into his head,
    We’ve had no advisor
    Teach anything wiser,
    So it won’t be that bad being dead.

  • Here we go again! I guess we never tire of swimming upstream.

    Guy, I don’t understand these Michael Thomas posts at all.

    It is my understanding, based on all the information I’ve digested over the past 7 years (a large part thanks to NBL), that we are already in overshoot, that now the only real solution is the total collapse of industrial civilization worldwide so that there might be some chance for something living to somehow survive. This means billions of people dying very quickly and a lot of infrastructure dismantling – despite all the logistical challenges this solution entails, if even it COULD be implemented.

    Isn’t this what you have concluded and isn’t this the message you are sending? I know you have also said: “resistance is fertile.” But, with the premise of overshoot, to resist is simply a pastime, an endeavor with no chance of success, a feel-good activity, or, as you say, a moral imperative.

    But do not deny the premise: It is too late, collapse IS happening, we cannot stop it, there will be chaos, riots, wars, famine, disease, and, finally, extinction. But, in the meantime, what to do?

    Or like Anthony says:
    To quote Tom Bennett: You need to choose who you want to be.
    Truthsayer? Nihilist? Hedonist? etc. . .

    If we be Truthsayers, then what is the truth? Red Eft has walked away from empire, and even if we all COULD do that, which we can’t (not all 350 million Americans, many must die), it STILL would not stop the trainwreck. An analogy:

    Step ONe: Notice the emergency. okay, Check. I’ve noticed the train is full of living Earth creatures and speeding across a bridge suspended over a lake of hot lava and the bridge ends with a drop into a hot volcano and everything will surely die.
    Step Two: Classify it as an emergency. okay, Check. I’ve done the math, this clearly is an emergency.
    Step Three: Take responsibility in the emergency. okay, Check. Yes, I have a responsibility since I’m on this train and I helped bring it up to speed and all that – I probably even helped cut the brake lines and I was probably out there stoking the volcano. I am responsible.
    Step Four: Know what to do. okay, Check. I can’t stop the train or turn it around, I can’t cool the lake of lava or the volcano, if I grab a couple of living things and jump from the train, then we will burn in the lake of lava. The only thing to do is ?? 1) tell everyone on the train we are all going to die! 2) kill myself. 3) head to the bar car and have a martini.
    Step Five: Do it. okay, Check.

    Michael Thomas seems to be saying that if we can get 10% of the population to believe in this premise, we could create a groundswell and begin to implement the solution. What Solution? Do we really believe that billions of people are going to voluntarily commit suicide, but, before they make the ultimate sacrifice for Life On Earth, they will gladly assist in the dismantling of the infrastructure of industrial civilization? That they will willingly assist in the creation of a New Beginning for Life On Earth?

  • Michael, Guy has often said that it is so late in the game that the only thing that could save us would be the collapse of industrial civilization. Since that would entail global chaos, huge loss of life and immense changes in life standards for any who don’t die, I find it hard to enlist anyone in that project.

    But I don’t try because the salvation won’t save us. With the collapse of industrial civ the coal plants stop putting aerosols into the air and within a week they drop out and the dimming ends causing global warming to greatly accelerate. With the end of industrial civ the grids go down and all the nuclear power plants in the world go critical without anyone being able to do anything about it.

    Suicide if we bring down industrial civ, suicide if we don’t.

    Do you have some plan that we can be convinced of and sell to others that doesn’t involve chaos, huge reduction of living standards, huge population losses, a plan that protects us from runaway global warming when the dimming ends and 439 nuclear plants melting down?

    Given that I see no way out, the sooner extinction happens the better. Every day 350,000 new humans are born. Every week 2.4 million, every year 127 million babies. The sooner we go extinct the less total humans will have to die untimely deaths. It would be a mercy if it happened tomorrow. If it happens in 10 years over 1 billion more humans will have to die than if it happens today. If it happens in 10 years those 1 billion will be 10 years old and younger and wonder why the hell they were conceived into a dying world. The only thing I advocate anymore is getting permanent birth control while you can.

  • pat, mine is not the only voice to which I listen. I promote viewpoints contrary to mine in this space, and I have for a long time.

  • @Pat

    Funny, but I think TPTB beat you to it, just it won’t be “willingly.” After you report to the FEMA camp, you will be given a shovel and told to dig, and dig deep brother.

  • So many factors are in the way.

    First there is the problem posed by our evolved triune brain. We have a “hyperbolic discount function” for risk – the farther away the risk is in time, the less we are motivated by it. This is caused by the fact that our emotions are wired in much more strongly to our reptilian and limbic complexes than to our cortex. That’s why we use adjectives like “cool”, “calm” and “dispassionate” to describe intellectual analysis, and adjectives like “hot” and “frantic” to describe feelings. Very few people get really emotionally aroused by reading facts. We are perhaps among that (un?)fortunate few. Even then, it’s not the bald facts that freak most of us out, but their implications for the people and things we care deeply about. We become aroused to action only when we perceive an immediate threat to something we have feelings about – and that threat needs to be very immediate indeed. Until the threat materializes before us we have a huge ability to lull ourselves with the same “delusions of reprieve” used by concentration camp victims right up to the moment that the gas chamber doors closed behind them.

    Then there is the problem that we are in so far that we have effectively cut off all avenues of retreat. Do we think that reducing the world’s energy consumption by 90% over the next 30 years is even remotely possible? The accretion of billions of tiny feedback decisions during our climb up the energy mountain has made it impossible for us to go back down voluntarily. We have no choice but to keep climbing the mountain until there is nothing but open sky in front of us.

    Finally and most importantly there is the nature of life itself. Life always seeks energy. No energy, no life. The seeking of energy is built into the basic program of reproductive life, down far below any level that our conscious minds can influence. Whether this is the result of the operation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, as I have come to believe, or simply an aspect of the evolutionary process of life makes precious little difference in the end. The constant search for energy is part of the fundamental programming that we inherited from those early prokaryotes, four billion years ago. The search for energy and the urge to reproduce are the two inviolable living principles that we share with those ancient ancestors. Our johnny-come-lately neocortex can do nothing to protect us because it is in service to those principles itself.

    We simply got smart enough, analytical enough, to recognize the potential energy inherent in fossil fuel. The rest, as they say, is history. As are we.

  • Paul says “Life always seeks energy. No energy, no life.”

    And there you have it – really, there’s nothing more to add. Oh, wait, there is – the exponential function. Because while the manifest destiny of our bacterial DNA drives us towards energy consumption at the molecular level, there’s this little issue about growth curves & finite levels.

    There are zillions of Hubbert curves, so the one linked below isn’t that critical in and of itself, other than notice the X axis:

    In 1960, total energy consumption was ’20’; fast forward 50 years to 2010, and it’s ’80’ – yep, a 4x increase. Now, the beauty of our predicament is that in order to maintain a functioning society, what with steady employment, sufficient tax receipts to fund social programs, and of course, the ability to pay the nut (interest) on ever expanding debt (btw, interest bearing debt is itself an exponential function, one not typically explained to the cattle, which is why ever 100 years or so, the masses find themselves dispossessed of all their property), total usage needs to increase another 4x over the next 50 years to 320. (Oh, sure, there might be some efficiencies, but then they are simply overwhelmed by increased demand.)

    So, savor that for a brief moment; doing so, I challenge anyone not to come away from this with the conviction that we are truly hosed. Because not only, are we not going to get to ‘320’, we in fact aren’t even going to be able to stay at ’80’. This is where things begin to break down, which is of course what has been happening since 2007.

    Since the end-game is clear for anyone who is interested in looking, it seems clear obvious that the complete abandonment of the rule-of-law – which a lot of bloggers seem to enjoy complaining about – makes perfect sense. Institutions are being ransacked because there isn’t going to be any tomorrow. Once your eyes are truly opened to what is goin’ down **right here & now**, then it’s pretty damn obvious about the true state of ship.

    As that’s the case, then any whining, complaining, agitating, etc is not only a waste of time, but it’s eating up precious moments that can be spent savoring the memories of what a fantastic ride it’s been.

  • Well said. We should all be shouting at the top of our lungs in outrage because the planet is dying. Even if we go out with the rest of our species, I think the ones who saw it coming and just decided to party until their inevitable end will have a few pangs of guilt on their death beds. Living as a co-dependent to a homicidal society like that should inspire more than silence. It should inspire an intervention. I recently watched a lecture by Robert Jensen that was about just such a subject:

  • So let’s forgive ourselves. We know not what we do and if we may know, we can’t stop.

  • Kathy C, here’s another antinatalist I’m sure you’ll appreciate. Fernando Vallejo is a major writer and activist who donated a literary cash award to the dogs of Caracas. Of course, his focus can be expanded from Colombia to include the entire world.

    Antinatalist Speech

    “It is said of the nihilist that ‘to him, nothing is sacred.’ He might reply that at least he does not sanctify the lie, the common compulsory-living lie; be it expressed as optimism about civilization or as the falsettos and tightened throats of those who must hide the disconcerting facts to children, so these are not frightened witless even at the outset.” Peter Zapffe


    rob, speaking of water (from the previous thread), we have a city councilman who was concerned about fracking in our area because it might cause problems with keeping lawns green and the parks pretty. We are utterly doomed.

  • Re: (4) evolution is far less likely than extinction (Schwartz 2006).

    It seems that evolution will continue regardless of the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. Bacteria and other anaerobic organisms will continue to thrive. Extinction of the human race is certainly more likely if we don’t restrict emissions, but I would hesitate to apply the term evolution without restricting the definition to humans in some way; is there even a consensus that human evolution would occur in the absence of AGW?

  • @ Len Conly

    Re recent, ongoing human evolution.

    Seems to be some possible evidence, fairly minor matters, ability to deal with certain diet, etc.

  • Thank you Mr. Thomas, for your insightful analysis. Addressed to the intellect. In logical, verbal arguments. Telling the chauffeur where the boss should go. Without addressing the reptilian Boss brain at all. The boss is non-rational and non-verbal. It does not matter when preaching to the NBL choir, because we all know the hymns.

    But outside this choir, all the logical, verbal arguments you can muster are just so much gibberish to the Boss brain. He can only be approached through the emotions. As Paul Cherfurka points out, it has to be an appeal to the boss’s feelings. Immediate feelings. Like when the crocodile of reality chomps down on those deep in deNile. The hyperbolic discount function remains operative until then.

    By the time the requisite 10% (needed to effect a societal change in attitude, as you point out) have been chomped down upon, the non-linear rates of change will be well out of hand. Dr. McPherson’s contention, with which most of us agree, is that they have already gone non-linear, and are therefore already out of hand.

    So the issue becomes what values we espouse en route to extinction. As suggested by the virgin terry many posts back, an effort may be directed towards minimising suffering. With imminence and lethality as the basis, the fast diminishing resources should be directed towards this end. There are many first-class passengers on our Titanic who will choose to stay in the ballroom listening to the music and sipping drinks. There will be those without the ballroom option who nevertheless consider it pointless to resort to the lifeboats with no prospect whatsoever for rescue. And there will be those who would like to stay alive for as long as possible.

    Should all the groups be accommodated? And to what extent, considering the resource constraints?

    If we are to respect the desires of those who wish to maximally postpone their mortality, then addressing the issue of the 400+ Fukes becomes a priority. And the issue that will be paramount to any effective action is to prevent panic and chaos. Rather tall orders for anyone, aren’t they?

  • As America eats itself, it tries to hide the shame and embarrassment.
    Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal to photograph or videotape fracking, mining, clear-cutting forests or factory farming.
    Under Senate Bill 0373, anyone who sets foot on corporate property in order to document envionmental, animal welfare and health violations of the industries would face criminal penalties.
    The bill has passed the Senate and is on track to be approved in the House.

  • No comment.

    National Safety Council honors Exxon Mobil Corporation with the Green Cross for Safety medal. Record-breaking funds raised to further the safety movement.

  • Well done, commenters! I am tired of talking, writing letters to the editor, forwarding articles, debating, analyzing, etc. for others who 1) are actively hostile, 2) think I’m losing my mind, 3) laugh at me, 4) dismiss me, 5) threaten me, etc. The only result I can see with this is that I’ll just end up alone and miserable. Which is where we’ll all be soon, but why hurry the process?

    Maybe I should simply prefer people to have a few more years of denial and then die not knowing why. Maybe. I don’t know if I would prefer that or not. I think one of my problems is that I am a teacher and I cannot stop being a teacher, whether it’s in a classroom or not. If I can see that someone doesn’t understand something, I try to fix that. I don’t know if I could quit doing that.

    Another one of my problems is that I like being right. That’s one reason I’m a pessimist – if I’m right, it feels good, if I’m wrong, well then the outcome was good and I can feel good about that! I think academics are very attached to being right, even being right about some horrible thing.

    Taught my last class yesterday. One final exam next Tuesday and I’m done. Mixed feelings.

    Spoke to a colleague in biology in the parking lot this morning. Told her I was retiring so I could become an organic farmer. Talked about climate change. She understands. She said she took a big risk when applying for a sabbatical last year, and asked for time to do community work, including art, that would get people to “love the ecosystem as much as they love their kids.” She was approved for the time and support, thought it went well, but not enough to get people to change their behaviour. She’s as discouraged as the rest of us here. She said, “I love science. I’ve always loved science since I was a little kid. But it’s not working anymore, it’s becoming irrelevant and I don’t know what to do.” I remarked that James Hanson retired to fight governments full time, that maybe we should all go get arrested. She laughed. We parted and went to our separate offices.

  • Michael Thomas :

    The only step left is to do it. So talk to others about these issues, to learn about them, and start taking steps towards solving problems. Taking steps towards preventing our own demise, taking steps towards pulling our collective head out of the sand.

    Or, as Vinay Gupta put it, some years ago :

    Wake the fuck up. I do not normally sound this angry, I normally just do my best to deal with the problems as I find them, at least pathfinding a way forwards, but I’m losing patience. Whatever you are doing, right now, is less important than doing something about the fate of the world. Now I am not telling you what you should be doing, I’m not asking you to help me or the Hexayurt Project or pick my damn problem list as your problem list. What I’m asking you to do is stop measuring the success of your endeavors by money. It’s going to be irrelevant very, very soon
    because when the planet goes bankrupt, or the poor rise violently because of what we have done and not done, money is not going to matter.
    These problems are real. If the governments or the NGOs or the UN were going to solve the problem, they would have. About the only success we have in 50 years is dealing with the ozone hole: the rest is a total fucking disaster. Waiting for them to come and sort this mess out is suicide. Get moving, soldier.

  • My Second and last post of the day, per the requirements of this blog:

    So, what have I learned today? Well, for starters, it seems most of the comments are voting for option 3 “heading to the bar car for a martini.” There are a few votes for option 1 “telling everyone on the train we are all going to die.”

    Now, lest I be accused of some egregious apathy, remember I was led here in large part by NBL. I would be happy to “do something,” even something extremely radical, were in not for the facts.

    I said this 10 years ago before I knew anything about Collapse, I was simply aware that there was something terribly wrong with “the system:”

    I am so ripe for revolution it’s not even funny. Whenever I find anyone remotely open to any aspect related to this topic I tell them I am ready to sign up right now, right f’ing now, just tell me where and when. I’ll be cannon fodder for the resistance if you wish, I’ll ride point through the mine field. But no one seems to have the slightest idea of where to go! Of course, everyone wants to have their cake and eat it to – willing to resist as long as they get to keep their job, house, and car. I admit, I never sought out the most downtrodden, the ones with nothing to lose, the ones probably most begrudged and, therefore, most eager to fight. I could have joined greenpeace or the sierra club or a militia in Montana, whatever, but I found them to be less than the ideal that I was searching for.

    Then, I found NBL and I became convinced that it’s too late.

    ‘I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special.’
    Steel Magnolias

    I have definitely had a lifetime of nothing special. The horror is that billions of people would have gladly switched places with me. And they probably would have made a better go of it.

  • Having trouble getting people on board because it involves the collapse of industrial “civ-kill-ization”…Hmm…I see plenty of third world people who are being industrialy ground to cabbage meat by the current state of affairs. Most in these circumstances are already way on board with the program. It is – as always – the first worlders, the engineers of the massacre and the NTE, especially the Americans and their minions worldwide in privileged hyper-status positions who benefit the most from the current paradigm; and (surprise) just find it too difficult to generate an iota of motivation to change much of anything. The change will have to come from within the belly of the American beast, which means overcoming the omnicidial, power thru violence, concrete-headed suicidal-fetishist-miasma of the American police and the American military and their right winger voters and politicians who underwrite and enact the suicidal psychopathology. I am not holding my breath, but if the change is going to start, it has to start in Los Estados. If the breakdown is to come, really in fact, it means no more lattes or iphones or hot showers or chats on facebook or functioning air conditioning or gas in the tank or goodies at walmart. No more antidepressants, Oprah, Outback magazine, ice cream or even available horsemeat at Taco Bell. No more happy lunches with the ladies at the Biltmore. No more art galleries, Indy 500, movie nights, popcorn or driving the x-large keister anywhere ever again. It means overcoming all of that. All of it. Seeing through it and shutting it down and off. Totally, completely, utterly. When the party starts it will be in the states, but right now over there is just a sick, ugly, gross, but well-policed, well-ordered snuff film being imposed on the planet with a few moronic status monkeys who will be the last addled punks to disappear, screaming USA, USA as they sink beneath the waves. When I look at my friends, family, acquaintances, countrymen in the US, all i see is a pack of hardcore lunatics in a continental sized insane asylum and around the world, nobody is currently visible but their enablers. Good Day.

  • Following up on Wester’s comment:

    Why are we not doing anything? Oprah.

  • Climate Change Is Here; Why Aren’t We Doing Anything About It?
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    Posted on Mar 21, 2013


    Regarding the impending climate crisis, Yale scientist Anthony Leiserowitz tells Bill Moyers: “You almost couldn’t design a problem that is a worse fit with our underlying psychology.” The solution? Part of it involves turning the issue into talking points for conservatives.

    How about describing global warming as a threat to Americans’ freedoms? “If you’re a rancher or a farmer in the Great Plains today,” Leiserowitz says, “your freedom is enormously constrained by the fact that you’re in the midst of a two-year severe drought, OK. You don’t get to choose what you’re going to plant. You don’t get to choose what cows you’re going to slaughter. In fact, we’ve just seen in Texas in the past year 2 million head of cow, cattle are no longer in Texas; they had to move them out because they couldn’t provide the food and forage and water for them because of that drought. That’s not freedom, OK. You are literally not able to do the thing that you were raised and that you believe in as part of your culture because the climate has changed.”

    Another approach Leiserowitz recommends, however difficult it is to imagine gaining traction among the Republican Party’s entrenched corporate backers, is to cast support for climate change legislation as an opportunity to win more votes from the American public.

    Read a transcript of their conversation here.

    —Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

  • I think Kathy C. has the most realistic, grounded response here. Global Dimming is currently saving our collective hides from being the egg in the frying pan the anti weed people like to trot out. Bring down Industrial Civ and we’ve got the same issue in our face. Of course, things could begin to clean up (barring the nuclear plants not being shut down properly, waste being stored, I don’t know where, to keep it safe for I have no idea how long).

    And Pat’s 2nd and last post resonates with me as well because it seems some measure of justice at least should be served to those leading the industries, writing the rules that did package and sell this culture to us without the warning label.

    Martini bar or radical activist most likely destined to die early or find oneself imprisoned in one of those CMU’s to the ugly end? Quite a choice.


    This is one of the best general-interest pieces I’ve come across regarding the operation of the triune brain. Here are two ideas that just came up as a result of a quick reading:

    First, about the reptilian brain:

    The reptilian brain governs instinctual responses like aggression, status-seeking, dominance, submission, worship, mate-seeking, fear and greed. It is also ritualistic, and if presented with the appropriate trigger will repeat past mistakes over and over, despite other parts of the brain knowing better. That sounds like a good description of the Shadow side of modern industrial civilization, yes?

    Well the kicker is, as Robin Datta pointed out above, that the reptilian brain responds primarily to images rather than feelings or thoughts. The consumptive shit-storm we’re in the middle of accelerated dramatically in about 1950. What else began to penetrate the global culture around 1950? Um, television…

    Just in time to tap into our reptilian instincts in the service of growth: use more energy, gain more power and more status through conspicuous consumption – along with the establishment of planned obsolescence as a continuous driver of more consumption in the service of more status… All piped directly to our undiscerning, reflex-ridden reptilian brains by the magic of TV.

    We sat down to watch “I Love Lucy” and Jack Benny, and were seized by a deep need to “keep up with the Joneses” by buying a better, newer car than they had…

    The second thought was about strengthening the role of the conscious mind, the neocortex. Without deliberate attention, its influence on our behaviour is minimal. The article recommends a number of approaches to improve the odds of making conscious, rational decisions. They are sensible, reasonable actions that should help most people to some degree.

    I would add two things to that list: meditation and facilitated deep self-exploration. The latter is harder to come by, because many of the groups that encourage it have their roots back in the est/human potential movements. As a result they may feel a little cultish to many people. I was part of one called The Inner Journey for a few years. It’s a modern update of the general idea that mixes basic Buddhism and Vipassana meditation with experiential depth psychology practices that draw on a lot of Jungian, humanist and cognitive psych approaches to self-awareness. It worked so well for me that I’ve been recommending it for the last half-dozen years as an essential prerequisite for coming to terms with the clusterfuck.

    Oh, and I never, ever watch television any more.

  • Well, there’s my problem! I need minions! Lots of them. Oh, and a sidekick.

    Wester, that was great. So many times recently I have had the experience of speaking with someone and suddenly what they’re saying has


    to anything real and I zone out and they’re still talking and it’s like I’m out of body watching them go blah, blah, blah and I wonder how this happened and if there is somewhere that I could go to get away from it.

    I guess not.

  • “On the Turning Away”

    On the turning away
    From the pale and downtrodden
    And the words they say
    Which we won’t understand
    “Don’t accept that what’s happening
    Is just a case of others’ suffering
    Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
    The turning away”
    It’s a sin that somehow
    Light is changing to shadow
    And casting it’s shroud
    Over all we have known
    Unaware how the ranks have grown
    Driven on by a heart of stone
    We could find that we’re all alone
    In the dream of the proud
    On the wings of the night
    As the daytime is stirring
    Where the speechless unite
    In a silent accord
    Using words you will find are strange
    And mesmerised as they light the flame
    Feel the new wind of change
    On the wings of the night
    No more turning away
    From the weak and the weary
    No more turning away
    From the coldness inside
    Just a world that we all must share
    It’s not enough just to stand and stare
    Is it only a dream that there’ll be
    No more turning away?

    -Pink Floyd

  • The liberating aspect of NTE is saying “no” and saying it often. I can’t be motivated by social pressure anymore. I can say “this is not important to me” and refuse to participate. This created an odd dynamic in my marriage. I don’t even live at home because if I did I would be pulled back into the all consuming work slave buy slave planet like a little moon. I identified the ways I wanted to live with what’s left and set about doing exactly that with the resources that I have. My husband is disappointed that I am no longer earning towards retirement! He thinks we can have a garden “someday” when we have sacks of money. He told me last weekend he could no longer relate to me. I told him “somedays” are going to be quite rare very soon.

    My response is mostly compassion; he is missing it! Im not so much worried what he thinks about me as i am him spending the last of his vital and physically strong days worrying about if his clients are going to pay him or what the competitors in his field are up to. I try when he comes here to show him the details of fragile beauty around us, and have been more successful ever since I ran over the satellite dish with the truck. I will place it all on the line to be with the living; I still have birds and chirping night insects,mossy glades and a cool creek, the dogwoods are blooming and the native azaleas are blazing with flowers the color of fire. You couldnt dynamite me out of here as nothing can out motivate NTE.

    Be kind to the ones who don’t yet see it or believe it. They are squandering their lives on a hologram. The virtue of immediacy that allows you to prioritize correctly is a gift.

  • What will you do if the forces of death and destruction are destroying the world around you? Will you still celebrate truth and beauty and love? Will your last breath be a sigh of blessing and gratitude?

  • @ mike k

    What will you do if the forces of death and destruction are destroying the world around you? Will you still celebrate truth and beauty and love? Will your last breath be a sigh of blessing and gratitude?

    If??? Those forces are now fully manifested. They are destroying the world around me. Yes, I celebrate beauty and love. I even celebrate the noble idea of truth, though I’m quite sure the idea itself is an illusion. Yes, my last breath will speak a blessing, and my heart is filled with gratitude every day. Who would not be grateful to be granted a ringside seat for this moment in the show? Being surrounded by deep love simply makes the moment that much more precious. I love being alive right now, and being awake enough to see what’s happening to the world. What a gift!

  • Robin Datta – I love that line, “when the crocodile of reality chomps down on those in deNile.” Haha. Great visual.

    Well. This has been the question that has haunted me for years. What to do? I get ridiculed for wanting to live in the past, but it’s my answer to that question. I am de-modernizing. If there is something I think I need (refrigeration, say) I remind myself that people used to ferment their food, and I don’t buy those things that will spoil at room temperature. And I am training my body to not need to be heated and cooled.

    This contraption that I am typing away on is an obvious departure from this ideal. So is the car I live in. There are others. But in general, I make an effort to go backwards, technologically.

    Of course, having said this, someone will surely catch me on my phone in a line at Starbucks waiting to board a plane. Ah, well. I do dream of getting around on horseback and clipper ship.

    And I do my best to inhabit and enjoy the present without personally contributing any more than I already have to a dismal future. I can be happy. May all beings be happy.

  • Love transcends thermodynamics and every other lila of limitation in this evanescent Universe. Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
    Are melted into air, into thin air:
    And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on; and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.
    And only Love remains.

  • To put the meaning of Life in the hands of physicists would be a grave mistake.

  • Oh, so now the continuing drought is NOT due to global warming –

    Last year’s huge drought was a freak of nature that wasn’t caused by man-made global warming, a new federal science study finds.

    Scientists say the lack of moisture usually pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico was the main reason for the drought in the nation’s midsection.

    Thursday’s report by dozens of scientists from five different federal agencies looked into why forecasters didn’t see the drought coming. The researchers concluded that it was so unusual and unpredictable that it couldn’t have been forecast.

    “This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years,” said lead author Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Climate change was not a significant part, if any, of the event.”

    Researchers focused on six states — Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa — but the drought spread much farther and eventually included nearly two-thirds of the Lower 48 states. For the six states, the drought was the worst four-month period for lack of rainfall since records started being kept in 1895, Hoerling said.

    He said the jet stream that draws moisture north from the Gulf was stuck unusually north in Canada.

    Other scientists have linked recent changes in the jet stream to shrinking Arctic sea ice, but Hoerling and study co-author Richard Seager of Columbia University said those global warming connections are not valid.

    Hoerling used computer simulations to see if he could replicate the drought using man-made global warming conditions. He couldn’t. So that means it was a random event, he said.

    Using similar methods, Hoerling has been able to attribute increasing droughts in the Mediterranean Sea region to climate change and found that greenhouse gases could be linked to a small portion of the 2011 Texas heat wave.

    Another scientist though, blasted the report.

    Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a federally funded university-run research center, said the report didn’t take into account the lack of snowfall in the Rockies the previous winter and how that affected overall moisture in the air. Nor did the study look at the how global warming exacerbated the high pressure system that kept the jet stream north and the rainfall away, he said.

    “This was natural variability exacerbated by global warming,” Trenberth said in an email. “That is true of all such events from the Russian heat wave of 2010, to the drought and heat waves in Australia.”

    Hoerling noted that in the past 20 years, the world is seeing more La Ninas, the occasional cooling of the central Pacific Ocean that is the flip side of El Nino. Hoerling said that factor, not part of global warming but part of a natural cycle, increases the chances of such droughts.

    Some regions should see more droughts as the world warms because of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, he said. But the six state area isn’t expected to get an increase of droughts from global warming — unlike parts of the Southwest — Hoerling said.

    – so the misinformation campaign to keep this all going continues along.

  • pat Says: …it seems most of the comments are voting for option 3 “heading to the bar car for a martini.”

    A bottle containing a genie
    Who can out-magic any Houdini—
    Even that can’t obstruct
    Being totally fucked,
    So meanwhile, I’ll have a martini.

  • @Tom,

    Yes, I have been pointing out this same trend in the latest science which seems to be pushing towards a discconnect between a myriad of global extremes, and a linkage to global warming. Now they are saying the warming isn’t really going to be that bad. I mean WHAT THE F*CK! And the OP talks about the need to get at least 10%. Yeah, good luck with that (it wouldn’t matter if we had 100% now).

  • BC Nurse Prof. (re your 10:08 post) – i’m with you there. i’ll spread the word on blog posts where, when challenged, i can link to here, Wit’s End and a dozen others for the information to back up what i’m saying. In person one becomes persona non grata real quick (or “the turd in the punch bowl” as my wife would say), so i only talk about it with strangers i strike up a conversation with at like fracking meetings for example, and some very few students (others have conniptions if their worldview is threatened).

    Red Eft and Paul C.: great comments and i totally agree. It’s amazing and appaling to be witness to this bottleneck (leading to extinction).

    Wester, pat, C2R, rob and Ken B: i hear that. We’re all so distracted for the most part (or as i like to put it “we’re all out of our minds, because we must be to live like this”) that the vast majority are not paying attention. Soon, though we’re all going to be witness to what catastrophe looks and feels like. “Ya ever seen pitchers of a tornado after it’s plowed through town, sonny? Well, that’s what it’s gonna be like – continuously. No clean up, no one to help out – no medical assistance, no electricity or running water, fires ever’where, poison gas leakin’ out the groun’, the dead lying about . . .” i don’t think there will be any escape for anyone and even those that last a while will only suffer more before they finally die of something, be it disease, nothing to eat or drink, no shelter, no system of any kind to aid in survival and the only energy coming from within.
    Pat – i said almost those exact same words (that there’s something wrong with the way the world works) when i was in my mid-teens, but i couldn’t put my finger on it, it was too fragmented (too many variables to explain – what’s the connection? Then the Aha! moment of clarity/horror).

    Ulv: yeah, i saw that bill which started out being about factory farming – anyone taking a picture on one of these giant farms is automatically a TERRORIST – and now applies to all this other corporate policy. How soon before protesting anything will be a one-way ticket to the FEMA “re-education camp” – and probably outsourced to China or N. Korea?!

    Got started plantin’ seeds in the garden yesterday (we broke high temp records all over the state) and they got properly watered in last night (brief torrential downpour). Today it’s almost 30 degrees cooler. Rain forecast for the weekend too. Warmin’ up again next week to the mid 70’s, when i’ll do some more with seeds. My garlic i planted last fall is up (now i have to wait for it to dry out in the ground before i harvest it, probably sometime around June or July. i put in pole beans, squash, cucumber, kale, and spinach so far.

    Went to see Winonah Hauter promote her new book Foodopoly, down at the Penn bookstore in Philly. It was well attended and she was a very knowledgable speaker (she’s the founder of Food and Water Watch). The only problem is that she calls for political change and i thinks that’s being a bit naive at this point. i think climate change is going to shut down the global corporate food system (besides the fact that it’s imploding on its own – from overfishing and polluting the oceans, to drought, flooding and erratic weather – growing crops and livestock is going to become impossible). It was a good talk (in that i learned some stuff) and i met some active people – young and old, all colors, ethnic groups and both genders.

    Michael Thomas: another well-written post, thank you.

  • It took billions of years for life on earth to evolve. Extinguishing life is easy, creating it is difficult, as mentioned in the OP. So if life on earth is going to be extinguished, it would be best to prolong it for as long as possible, I would have thought, rather than to actively seek to foreshorten it. We’re a long time dead, after all.

    The only reason to hope for better birth control and a reduced human population is to increase the chances of our long term survival, so I am for it for that reason. Wishing for a smaller human population so that there is less suffering during our final undoing seems pointless to me. What does it matter if 9 billion of us perish instead of 8 billion?


    As soon as nature starts going into death throes for real – when the main extinction phase has begun – I’m sure we’ll all be amazed at how mortal peril will quicken the senses of the here-to-fore blissfully ignorant. There will come a point when all our attention will be focused on Saving Our Skins, and there won’t be any problem too difficult for us to at least embark upon an attempt to fix.

  • i find a few things about the guest essay above absurd. the idea that something as complex as eco-collapse can be reduced to mathematical equations, for example:

    ‘if just 7% more ecosystems shift states (collapse at 50% and we are currently at 43%) (Barnosky 2012), (3) managers, planners, and politicians are not coordinating with scientists or experts (Staudinger 2012), and (4) evolution is far less likely than extinction (Schwartz 2006).’

    i’m not quibbling with the conclusion reached, just how it’s arrived at.

    then there’s the idea that we’ve become like mice facing extinction without even making a squeak of alarm. robin has already pointed out repeatedly the general dominance of reptilian brain function over ‘higher faculties’ of thought in human consciousness and behavior. i’ll reinforce my own oft stated opinion that ‘changing the world’ is a sysyphean (sic?!) task thanks to the prevalence of dogma addiction and a dumbed down species more inclined to embrace simple lies than complex surrealities.

    squeak all u want, michael thomas. not going to help. alienation and isolation await your surrealization of this. if only ignorance and delusion were amenable to reason! our ‘world’ has been ignorant and delusional throughout recorded history. dogmas and reptilian brains rule! despots and greed. lies and violence. human hubris.

  • We have already gone over the cliff and have been falling for some time. All that we can expect now is the SPLAT!

  • I’ve been clearing a ton of brush and branches lately and chipping them to increase their surface area so the mycelium of the mycorrhizal fungus I’m introducing as a powdered extract will accelerate the ‘liveliness’ of the soil they are spread out over. I day dreamed/fantasized about stuffing some of the reptile brained CEO’s and politican/lizards into the electric woodchipper and watching them disappear into a pink mist in support of organic composting. There’s an almost endless supply them available for ‘soil building’ but I realized my wimpy electric chipper was not up for the task.

    Ironically only an ‘industrial sized’ woodchipper the size of a tractor trailer with a 3,000 hp fuel injected turbo diesel would suffice for the ceremonial shredding of the Industrial Age’s legions of Greed-is-Go(o)d boosters and their yellow running lackey sycophants.

    I see Complexity being force fed into the razor sharp spinning maul of Simplicity.

    The meek shall inherit the Chips.

  • The majority don’t want to know or talk about it. They roll their eyes and change the subject. They want to continue their cushy lives with no regard for the destruction of the natural world or disruption of the climate. They think nature is what you see in documentaries on TV and it doesn’t seem real to them anyway.

    They don’t even care about the consequences for their descendants. People refer to me as a “greenie” to be humoured and scoffed at.

    It’s too late to convince these people and no point anyway. I have found over the last 5 years people are becoming less and less receptive to facing up to what is happening even with the evidence before their eyes.

    This is my experience in Australia at least. Maybe I’m associating with the wrong people.

  • Paul C., Red Eft and others. . . . fantastic posts. Thank you.

    At the risk of being repetitive, the author does not understand two key points:

    He is unable to understand that reducing Nature to math is reducing it to the manageable, not the knowable: Reductionism ad absurdum.

    And (wait for it). . ..

    Anthony’s Exponential Law: By the time exponential change is noticeable programs do not affect the outcome.

    Like so many he is wrapped up in the delusion that the power of positive thinking will overcome reality as constrained by physics, chemistry and biology (which includes humans as Paul outlined so well)

    Have I mentioned Paul’s post? :)

    I also really like Sevareid’s Law: Solutions are the cause of problems.

    What we collectively need to do is stop doing.

  • @Wester, yowsa! Right on… I was just thinking about ice cream today. With baby steps it would not be all that terrible to get by without a fridge. My Italian relatives have tiny fridges, and many times leave food out, or in the oven, for days; it’s just a matter of adjustment. One obstacle in the US is the gooberment: for example, I thought I could make some traditional Italian savory vegetable tarts out of the produce at the farmers’ market. Since people complain about having to—imagine!—actually cook the food they buy at the farmers’ market, the market wants to have more vendors with prepared items. But aside from the full-bore catering license and tax license and other bureaucratic hoop-la that would be required, I’d have to have industrial means for keeping the food either unnaturally HOT or unnaturally COLD all day. Room-temperature food (other than cookies) is viewed in the US as instant death.

    People have such a long way to come, as other have mentioned here. JUST the mental deprogramming alone would take more time and energy than we’ve got, it seems. God, I miss that prosciutto hanging out, the salami, the cheeses… the wonderful smell of a real Italian deli. Though over in Europe they, too, are slowly having the regime of “vacuum-seal-everything-in-plastic-and-refrigerate” imposed on them.

    @Rita Vail, exactly. I shower, during the winter, about once every two weeks and no-one seems to have noticed any ill effects. I alternate between using up old shampoo and going the “no-poo” route. My elderly mom pretty much refuses to bathe (hasn’t the energy for it), but I have to say that she does not smell at all. I do encourage a sitz-bath (bidet), but otherwise… SO much of what we are indoctrinated into thinking of as necessary really isn’t. We have some rooms in our house (built in 1900) which were never intended to’ve been heated, imagine that, in Vermont. Others rooms have old holes for stovepipes, now plugged up for heating “efficiency”. My goal for the next couple of years is to bulld/buy/find a house with the capacity for a masonry heater or rocket stove for just a central living area and hearth. Our own could be a candidate but I would like to be closer to farmers and to have a small woodlot and some cropland. This, of course, is not a “sustainable” possibility for 7 or 9 or 11 billion people at once. Should my efforts fail, freezing to death is supposedly not as awful as many other demises, and I am one of the fortunate few who have a store of pills should things become unbearable. I have, potentially, enough monetary resources to facilitate a complete retreat as of today, but am practically stuck in the status quo for certain reasons.

    @Ken, if you can only get Dr. Oz! to address the issue… the sheeple hang on his every word, apparently.

    @BC Nurse Prof, I have had the experience of speaking with someone and suddenly what they’re saying has ABSOLUTELY NO RELEVANCE to anything real and I zone out and they’re still talking and it’s like I’m out of body watching them go blah, blah, blah and I wonder how this happened and if there is somewhere that I could go to get away from it.

    LOL! That’s me the last fifteen years at least, for various reasons. First I tried to escape to rural Italy, but that actually wasn’t far away enough. Now I’m in rural Vermont, Certainly more people here than there who get that things are going way wrong. I haven’t encountered anyone yet who’s fessed up to arriving at NTE, but it’s still a relief to -for example- go to a potluck where you’re asked to bring your own silverware and dish, and that’s normal. (In rural Italy, the vast majority of folks use oodles and oodles of “disposable” plastic plates in the home as an every-day convenience, believe it or not.) A very small thing, but still an awareness that some people don’t have Dixie’s disposable-plate profits foremost in their thoughts. [One sad bit of news in the paper: NH looking into trying to help the endangered loon population, 40-something% of which dies each year (according to the article) from lead poisoning after ingesting fishing weights. Contrary to this proposal are Republicans who are worried about 1.) the bass-fi$hing tourneys which bring fi$hermen from out-of-state and 2.) the poor put-upon sellers of lead weights, even though the proposed legislation was not to go into effect for something like 3 years so that sellers could clear their inventory. That was the sickening part for me: that the loons were “important”, but not so important that we shouldn’t keep on killing half of them each year (and they don’t even begin reproducing until age 6) for a few more years just so as not to affect a tiny handful of folks’ ALMIGHTY PROFIT.] How much could it possibly cost to just buy out the inventory, I ask you!? Argh.

    @Red Eft The liberating aspect of NTE is saying “no” and saying it often. Yes!! I can’t be motivated by social pressure anymore. I can say “this is not important to me” and refuse to participate. …I identified the ways I wanted to live with what’s left and set about doing exactly that with the resources that I have. Fantastic. This is very brave of you!! Congratulations! Unfortunately, at present I have my elderly mom who is hooked up to 02 and TV. I could not brook an existence like that for myself but I obviously cannot take away the only entertainment she is interested in. When she passes, my first act after calling the coroner will be to disconnect the boob tube, and write a list of 50 other immediate down-sizing steps I know I can bully my husband into accepting whether he likes it or not. [He generally does understand where I am coming from, but has not reached the fullness of apprehension.]

    I ran over the satellite dish with the truck. LOL! Whoops-a-Daisy! ;-)

    @Tom, re. witnessing. Several years ago I told a friend that Americans would have a hard time going back to the living standards of the 1950s, whereas we were headed towards the living standards of the 1850s (this is before my understanding of NTE). Currently, I’m cleaning out my mother’s house—the house I grew up in—which is now apparently unfit for modern living. The RE agent is distressed that the stairway is too narrow to admit a Queen- or King-sized mattress or box spring, and the upstairs windows too small for that purpose as well. The ceilings are too low, the bedrooms too small, and there is only one full bath! In my parents’ day, I guess people were physically smaller, but whatever the case, they slept in “full”-size, or “double” beds, and that was that. I thought the basement might be dirt, and was told that no-one could get an FHA loan on a house with a dirt basement!!! WTF! SO, that’s on the one hand… 

    On the other hand, my sister found a letter from my grandmother to my father written during the First Great Depression, in which she shared with him the shame of not having enough money to bury his grandfather, my father’s father. She said that “poverty was the root of all evil” and that she was “going mad”! In clearing out our house, I found half-made quilts she had been working on using a few sheets of newspaper as batting. I feel as though I am standing on a bridge with a vision suspended between a rather-difficult past and an apparently-easy present, but that that bridge will be swept away altogether and we shall fall into a dreadful abyss that no generation of humans has ever experienced, of which we have no vision, and whatever vision we can imagine will still be lacking. Relatively speaking, the Depression that drove my grandmother to the end of her rope will seem like “good times”.

    Anyway, the observation I wanted to make is that the very house that my grandmother could not conceive of, in terms of luxury, in the space of 50 years has been rendered sub-normal and inadequate.

    @Sadie “as nature starts going into death throes for real”… Are we not seeing already the “death throes for real”? As for “Saving Our Skins”, what I fear will happen is that we’ll just see several billion chickens running around with their heads cut off. In my part of the country, guns ’n’ ammo suits a lot of folks. The “private property” meme is way too deeply entrenched in most places for even the government to dare to take over the failing local nuke plant (not “ours”! “Belongs to” Entergy!). There will be a million different individual responses and few collective ones. We’ve been well-trained, as you can recently see from Maggie Thatcher’s hagiography, to disregard society as something worth caring about, much less “the environment”.

    My sister, educated at Holyoke and Wesleyan and creepy-Christian Pepperdine business school, thinks “environmentalism” is a dirty, anti-American, word. I pointed out that just on a cost basis it was dumb to pay someone to take away leaves in a huge diesel truck and then pay someone else to come back and fertilize her lawn and she sneered, “Thats Ci-vi-li-ZAY-shun!!” These people think The Orkin Man is going to Save Their Skins, no lie, and that their houses best be rendered entirely sterile. They take out-sized pride in not recycling because they KNOW that Jesus is going to come soon and clean up the Earth. I wish I were kidding.

    The folks who “celebrate” Earth Day by driving their Hummers around in circles are not going to see the light, most of them. I just don’t hold out that hope.

    @TVT, yes there shan’t be much of a squeak. The fact that a minority of us are more conscious of the long-term effects of our actions than yeast in a jar just makes the tragedy that much more poignant. Yeast don’t happen to have the wherewithal to write blogs amongst themselves as the waste products build up.

    I think the models you are talking about still do serve to illustrate the process: even if we cannot ascertain their margin of error, we can understand the background notion of a tipping point. It certainly is daunting to think of identifying AN ecosystem, any particular “one”, for the purposes of this census… not least because we are still in the process of discovering ecosystems as we go along—the bacteria in our gut, the microbial ecosystems in the soil, etc.!—but also because it would seem impossible to designate where “an ecosystem” begins and another ends. I heard one phenomenal thing I’d never previously considered, in a podcast I listened to recently which talked about the micro-organisms below the soil surface AND ALSO on plants’ leaves as constituting the plant’s external gut. I was a biology major at MIT 30 years ago or more, and I certainly was never presented with this sort of material, nor did I otherwise entertain it, although it’s blindingly obvious once one mentions it.

    Doing taxes and taking care of a needy paranoid oldster who watches too much CNN and Weather Channel… She’s crying because she thinks I’m going out tomorrow and there is supposed to be rain… Did hunter-gatherers experience this? Fear of getting wet? My grampa (he of the father they could not afford to bury) said, when it rained, with his Italo-American goom-ba accent, with his three fingers blown off by construction dynamite (apparently before “workman’s compensation”): “whaddayagonna MELT?!?!” ;-)

    Thanks to everyone on NBL for your ongoing contributions which assist in keeping me marginally sane.

  • Debbie Flynn

    Where bouts in Australia are you/

    I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, at the top.

  • ‘When I look at my friends, family, acquaintances, countrymen in the US, all i see is a pack of hardcore lunatics in a continental sized insane asylum’ -wester, 11a.m. comment/rant

    as an inmate in the amerikkkan asylum, i’m smiling and nodding in bemused agitated agreement. rage on, sir!

    badlands, thanks for the floyd lyrics…

    ‘What does it matter if 9 billion of us perish instead of 8 billion?’ -sadie

    this question would be best answered by the extra billion. however, sadie, imagine if u can having an option of being born into a lunatic asylum run by the nuttiest inmates, about to all suffer and die. what sane intelligent being would make such a choice? of course, no one has such a choice to make, but many can make the choice not to add to the tragedy by not reproducing. as kathy says, one of the few powers left to us to do ‘good’ is by making the right choice for the unborn.

  • Hi OzMan

    I’m in southern suburb of Sydney.

  • There is no “the planet” or “our planet”, there is only THEIR planet. The world is owned by a few people and their corporations. It exists solely to produce infinite wealth for them, and as long as it is doing that, they’re not going to let anything change that process. To them, climate scientists are like vagrants standing outside the mansion gate haranguing them about not taking care of the lawn properly. They will ignore them for awhile, but eventually they are going to get tired of hearing it, and then they’ll call the cops and have them removed…or maybe something much worse. Some part of their brains, reptilian or otherwise, knows that no one can be allowed to tell them how they should or shouldn’t use their own property. I imagine that their patience is wearing thin and that they will take not take much more of this impudence.

  • Ripley; Reminds one of the James Bond movies. NTE will finally take them down because of 007 (Nature Bats Last). Problem is that in this movie, 007 goes down too. Revenge is sweet, sweet enough to die for? At least it will feel a little better in that light. Some of us want to stay alive long enough to see nature win for once.

  • good morning

    two things:

    Paper: 35 sq. mile ‘mega-pod’ of dolphins related to sea lion deaths in California? Extraordinary changes seen in behavior of marine mammals — Pretty obvious something’s going on

    In our 42 years, we have never seen anything like this,” [Pacific Marine Mammal Center development director Melissa Sciacca] says. […]

    This unusual wave of sea lion beaching comes at the same time as a rash of equally remarkable marine mammal events have caused a sensation over the past few months. Back in mid-February, a mega-pod of feeding dolphins that was estimated to number in the tens of thousands and to cover 35 square miles astonished residents near San Diego, while the largest pods of grey and killer whales ever spotted also delighted tourists at the same time as they perplexed scientists.

    Researchers at NOAA are cautious in their proposals as to what is behind the growing number of incapacitated sea lion pups, points out Beth Pratt, California director of the National Wildlife Federation. But, she adds, it’s hard for the average person watching these events not to think they’re connected somehow.

    “It seems pretty obvious to the average viewer that there is something going on in our oceans or environments that is driving such extraordinary changes in marine mammal behavior,” she says. […]

    (link to the full report within)

    and (next comment, to avoid being held up in moderation)


    Bloomberg: Radioactive water from Fukushima reactors to be dumped in Pacific? “It’s obvious they can’t keep storing it forever”

    This on top of the already leaking radiation-contaminated water containment pools, broken, damaged pipes and whatever all else leaking into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean since the original disaster happened 2 yr ago.

    Do you think the deaths of all these marine creatures (and probably birds and fish too) is somehow related? To Tepco execs and GE who designed these ridiculous atomic energy plants:
    “How about y’all take a nice swim out there off the coast for a few days, see how you feel afterward?”

  • …all you have to do is Google “resistance to industrial civilization” and you will get a ton of stuff if you are interested in “Resistance is Fertile, and a moral imperative.”

    Deep Green Resistance:
    The Deep Green perspective argues that the dominant culture, a term that encompasses all the cultures within globalized civilization, will not undergo a voluntary transformation to a sustainable way of living. This includes the dismissal of a possible success of a slow and soft shift to sustainability. Individuals of the Deep Green movement believe that industrial civilization will inevitably collapse. This notion is based on historical examples of the collapse of major civilizations such as Rome or the Mayan civilization. DGR maintains that humans must act decisively before the collapse to ensure the Earth that remains is inhabitable for all organisms and that humans build a more sustainably structured society following the collapse.[2] Deep Green Resistance supports an active resistance movement with the objective of accelerating the collapse of industrial civilization.[1]

    Within the Deep Green theory, lifestyle or personal changes are not considered effective methods of creating meaningful change. The mainstream environmental movement is seen as being distracted by its emphasis on individual lifestyle changes and technological solutions instead of confronting systems of power and holding individuals, industries, and institutions accountable.[5][6] The founders of the Deep Green movement view technological solutions, no matter how well intentioned, as unsatisfactory and warn that they could even lead to accelerated ecological destruction and pollution [2](see Jevons Paradox). The Deep Green movement looks to pre-industrial and pre-civilization, land-based cultures as models for sustainable ways of living.[1]

  • I was revisiting the “Toba Catastrophe Theory” the other day. Still not a settled matter as to the cause of the Bottleneck but the genetic evidence seems fairly clear.

    The entire hominid population reduced down to between 1,000 and 10,000 mating pairs by some environmental catastrophe about 70,000 years ago.

    Hmm, sounds like a preview of coming attractions. Anyway, just for a hypothetical, imagine instead of NTE, we get a Toba scenario and the human population bottlenecks down from 7 billion to 10,000 mating pairs.

    Psychologically the survivors will be traumatized to say the least. Is that what was meant by Sting’s song lyric:

    ” Blessed are the poor, for they shall inherit the earth
    One is better to be poor, than a fat man in the eye of a needle

    As these words were spoken, I swear I hear the old man laughing
    What good is a used up world, and how could it be worth having?

    The ‘fatman in the eye of a needle’ is the Bottleneck.

    So let’s assume we as a species squeeze through the eye of the needle and once again try go forth with our ‘big brains’ and multiply back up to 7 billion mouths to feed in the breathtakingly short space of 70,000 years.

    Well the first time it happened the Earth was Virgin to our collective advances.

    This time, not so much.

    In fact, the environment is so wasted it would be generous to think hominids could repeat the Triumph in 700,000 years or 7 million.

    But let’s say the plucky hominids ‘pull it off’ in the sense of recovering their numbers enough for something above the mud hut village level. Does anyone on this blog think humans are capable of changing their collective MO and not just recreating the perpetual feudal reptilian hierarchy we enjoy today?

    Seriously, if you bottleneck the whole mess down yet again to a tiny fraction of it’s former Glory, the same phucking inbred psychopaths among us will simply take over again once again.

    William Blake when asked what ‘energy’ was said, “Energy is Eternal Delight”

    It is a snake swallowing it’s own tail, the Ouroboros.

    It does not care a wit about Anything else in all of Creation except for It’s eternal imperative to chase it’s own tail.

    The Universal Blob of Energy (UBE) is the very definition of narcissistic self absorption as manifested by Life Forms chasing their very own Energy Tails.

    There is no End Game, it’s All just Eternal Delight wanting to experience the Possible, be that as some perverse incarnation of sado-masochastic voyeurism or high aesthetic passion. It’s just tail chasing. All of It. That’s It’s purpose.

    The UBE is utterly Alone and needs to pretend It’s not the only One (One is the loneliest number after all), so It divides itself into ‘head & tail’ to play the game of Eternal Hide & Seek.

    The real role of Art & Science is to reveal the Infinite within the Ordinary.

    Peek-a-boo, I see You.

  • Book review on “2052”, Jorgen Randers, one of the authors on “The Limits of Growth.”

    “I will not tell you what the future could be, but what the future will be.”

    “Randers says, there is no more a fan of good and bad scenarios: there is only one; and it is not pleasant. It can only be the decline of our society, constrained by overpopulation, declining resource availability, and widespread damage caused by pollution and climate change. The start of the decline may come earlier or later; collapse may be faster or slower, but the shape of the future is determined.”

    “Randers maintains that there is a simple way to describe the reasons that are taking us to this unpleasant future: people always make the choice that involves the least costs in the short term. The problem is all there: as long as we always choose the easiest road, we have no control on where we are going.”

    That seems to summarize what I think as well.

  • Here’s another:

    Mission Statement:

    The Fertile Ground Environmental Institute promotes worldwide oppositional cultures to challenge the systems that oppress and dominate human populations and the natural world.

    We build support for localized resistance against industrial civilization by providing educational materials and developing Deep Green leadership.

    We Believe:

    1. That human survival is dependent on healthy, diverse ecosystems.
    2. That industrial civilization is undermining every living system on the planet.
    3. That industrial civilization is a culture of occupation and genocide.
    4. That Indigenous communities need to be honored, supported, and restored.
    5. That the rights of life trump the perceived rights of commerce.
    6. That most injustices are systematic and deliberate.
    7. That the scale of planetary degradation is massive and should be met with solutions that match the scale of the problems.
    8. That the modern environmental movement will need to undergo a fundamental transformation for it to be successful.
    9. That technological innovation will not prevent the systematic degradation of our planet.
    10. That this culture will not make a voluntary change to a sustainable lifestyle.
    11. That protective use of force is justified in defending the landbase.
    12. That our current civilization needs to be replaced by thousands of cultures that are fully integrated into their local ecosystem.

  • Carmen – thanks for that.

    Listen up, everyone: the nuclear radiation problems are here now (all over the world actually), will continue to worsen year after year and aren’t going away in our lifetimes.

    (1.25 hr video/audio)

  • “resistance is fertile”

    But, with the premise of overshoot, to resist is simply a pastime, an endeavor with no chance of success, a feel-good activity, or, as Guy says, a moral imperative.

  • 2nd and last post of the day:

    I’m sure this hasn’t been missed but isn’t the resistance basically going to war with 90% of the Earth’s population? I mean, if Industrial Civilization is the enemy, then every govt, govt institution, govt employee, and govt aid recipient (includes many farmers, children, students and old people and disabled people), as well as pretty much every business enterprise is targeted.

    Ummm, sounds kinda’ crazy. I don’t know how anyone signs up for that. Even though I admit, that doing nothing is basically signing up to do the same damn thing, only through unmitigated Collapse and NTE. Oh the irony! Just by typing on this computer, I have joined the forces of Collapse. I am the enemy of the Resistance.


  • @Tom says “The only problem is that she calls for political change and i thinks that’s being a bit naive at this point.”

    When someone brings up politics in my presence, two things happen (well, three actually):

    1. They go down at least one notch in my personal esteem
    2. I go into BC Nurse’s ‘wah wah wah I can’t hear you’ mode
    3. I try and turn the conversation to something like sports, entertainment, or some other triviality to avoid overtly insulting the person; even so, it’s hard to mask appearing to be condescending

    It’s interesting your bring up politics – surprisingly, it even rears it’s ugly head in this space of all places. After all, you’d think more people would be wise to the game by now. But that indoctrinated left-right paradigm is hard to shake loose, almost like a deep seated religion or some other kind of irrational belief structure.

    The best way to described politics is like a business: the customer is always right. If you’ve got a complaint about social justice, we have Mr A to handle your complaint. On the other hand, if you’re agitating about cultural issues, Ms C is the person to see.

    But here’s the catch: since the state-enterprise system is so entrenched and throws off so much cash to it participants, trying to get them to move into ‘new’ markets is like trying to acquire VC funding – they are slow to react and very conservative with their money.

    But if a movement shows some promise, and looks like it may gain some real purchase with the masses, then the machine swings into action to ensure that it controls the entire process. First up, as usual, are the laws that guarantee a bureaucracy, then the financing must be arranged, and then the political supporters (unions on the left, corporations on the right) must have the money funneled to them.

    After a few generations, you could probably be forgiven by being unable to see the seams of where the new “business line” was incorporated into the existing whole. All that remains is a larger workforce, more indenture, and more supporters paid off to ensure continuity.

    The actual issue? Well, you gotta use the goodies, don’t you? So the Reagan build up resulted in GW I & II. The Great society morphed into an incredible number of people on SNAP, extended benefits, etc all doled out via EBT cards.

    So here’s some advice: if you feel the need to get our there and protest, know two things: your efforts are wasted, or, you’ll get co-opted and your movement will simply be used to further enrich the state-industrial complex.

  • @Pat – yes. That is the problem. We have met the enemy and he is us, or at least, those of us who drive cars, eat food grown or transported with fossil fuels, heat and cool with them, have tools made of steel, use anything plastic or glass, or made in a factory, or use anything electronic.

    I think that this is one of the reasons that many people turn a deaf ear. Either they can see that you are a hypocrite, or they can sense the existential problem in fighting. Why wake people up to warn them about something that you, yourself, have not figured out a solution to?

    I think if you are going to wake people up, at least point them in the direction of preparing for the inevitable. Beyond that, what is there? Prayer? Actually, I am not knocking prayer. It has made a difference to me. And meditation. And being in solitude. That and decivalizing.

  • I never thought my life would come to this, but here it is.

    I agree with B9K9 and many many others on this blog, resistance is futile. Where do you think Greenpeace gets the funds to run around chasing whale hunters? Probably from corporations that have an economic interest in stopping whale hunting, not because they really give a damn about whales.

    Now, I say that resistance is futile only in terms of the probability of success – which is near zero. It is NOT futile in the personal sense, as Guy says: “it is a moral imperative.” So we are left with the dilemma that Pat is struggling with – either you are part of the Resistance or you are part of the Collapse. I would argue also that in the rare case of an individual (Red Eft) or a group actually NOT contributing to the Collapse IS part of the resistance, or at least you could say they have “opted out” of the Collapse! But, sadly, they are statistically unimportant to the discussion.

    We could also speak in terms of absolutes, such as, you cannot be part of the Resistance and own a car! Or we could tally your footprint in each and determine, by the sum, which movement you belong to: you own a car = minus 100 points, you have a composting toilet = 20 points, TOTAL = 80 points net for Collapse, therefore, you are part of the Collapse (shame on you).

  • .
    Dealing with Pre-Doomers

    IRL, we are magnanimous,
    Because doom’s support here’s unanimous;
    If life were a cartoon,
    We’d say, What a maroon!
    What an ignoranimous!

  • @ B the D


    Heehaw, heehaw, heehaw

  • @ BTD

    the 5 second video was funny, but the comments below it would be even funnier if not so sad… the polar extremes we have in this country just beg the question as to how we are not already collapsed…

  • __________________


    by W.S. Merwin

    with the night falling we are saying thank you
    we are stopping on the bridges to bow for the railings
    we are running out of the glass rooms
    with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
    and say thank you
    we are standing by the water looking out
    in different directions.

    back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
    after funerals we are saying thank you
    after the news of the dead
    whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
    looking up from tables we are saying thank you
    in a culture up to its chin in shame
    living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you
    over telephones we are saying thank you
    in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
    remembering wars and the police at the back door
    and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
    in the banks that use us we are saying thank you
    with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
    unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

    with the animals dying around us
    our lost feelings we are saying thank you
    with the forests falling faster than the minutes
    of our lives we are saying thank you
    with the words going out like cells of a brain
    with the cities growing over us like the earth
    we are saying thank you faster and faster
    with nobody listening we are saying thank you
    we are saying thank you and waving
    dark though it is

    (from his 1988 collection, Rain in the Trees)

  • What great comments here today! Fantastic post, Lidia, especially. It seems to be important to me to hear how others are dealing with the certain knowledge of NTE. When all of you speak of what people say to you in daily exchange, I can only say yes, I’ve heard that, too.

    I’m re-reading “The Coming Plague” by Laurie Garrett. She recounts the history of HIV in terms of science and social responses. I had forgotten the bitter debates and insane theories that went on for years about what it was and where it came from.

    The Gay Plague
    Them damn Haitians
    A curse from God
    A CIA plot to kill Africans
    A cross between a sheep virus and HTLV-I created at Ft. Detrick to wipe out most of the world’s population
    Can be washed off with soap and water
    You can douche with vinegar and get rid of it
    We eat kimchi and so don’t have HIV in our country
    We are morally pure and don’t have it in our country
    It cannot be transmitted by heterosexual activity
    Only druggies get it
    Condoms make your chances of getting it even worse

    etc. etc. etc.

    Remember all of these? Even many scientists participated in these delusional views. It’s no different with climate change. Maybe even worse, really.

    My friend from biology yesterday said, “But in WWII people planted victory gardens when they believed it would help the war effort. This war is much bigger. Why can’t we mount a campaign like that now?”

    I answered, “Because at that time most people still believed in government and what they told us. Since then, all trust has evaporated. Governments are now controlled by banks and multi-national corporations and they lie to us every day. We all know this and we don’t believe them anymore. We don’t even believe science anymore. Social collapse is proceeding so fast that none of these old rules apply anymore. Humans can’t live in groups without trust and now that’s gone.”

    Truly, the “wurst” is yet to come. Yes, I made some sausage from local pastured pork and grass fed beef a few weeks ago and it was so good! Sausage and cheese and homemade bread. Is it better if you have your own private plane and have your pilot fly you to Paris for lunch and back to Denver for supper? Never having to stand in the humiliating security check lineups at the airport, but simply being waved by as you walk the carpet to your plane with a blonde bimbo on your arm, get a blow job on the way there and toast with champagne on the way back? These people think they are so happy, but they aren’t. They think they will enslave us as things get worse, but the end is near for them, too.

    A long time ago, I read a post by Stirling Newberry on The Agonist in which he said, “Keep a foot in both worlds and ride this sucker all the way down. Then step off.” That really stuck with me. I took whatever I could get from the mainstream world, played their game, took every advantage I could manage, and now I’m stepping off, partially. I will take further steps off as things get worse. And I don’t envy the bimbo on the plane.

  • Bluebird, thank you so much for sharing that poem!! Reposted with the wonderful video thanks to KathyC:

  • Pym, thanks for the anti natalist speech. He speaks from more direct experience than I do.

    Dairymandave – I agree – we need to forgive ourselves, and then do what seems best, most helpful, most loving in the time we have left. And appreciate the beauty that is left in the world

    This was sent to me by a friend. It is a clip of a full moon rising in NZ.
    Absolutely stunning.

  • Second post of the day – reminder to self, always update before posting – then I wouldn’t have posted the video again :) Gail, nice combination – the poem Bluebird shared and the vid.

  • Let’s get real about food. Victory gardens were more about “social” than about “calories”. Vegetables are mostly water. You would need to eat 100 tomatoes a day to get your calories. (I’m counting only calories in this rant) You would need to eat 3500 leaves of lettuce, 27 potatoes, 46 ears of corn, or 430 leaves of cabbage to get your daily calorie need. Things look better with grains and animal products. Just 5 cups of wheat would do it, 3 lbs of beef, 6 quarts of milk, 4 dozen eggs or 2 lbs of cheese. Each of these amounts will deliver 3500 calories, what a working man needs.

    Now, to get this food, one will need to work, work efficiently, work by taking the shortest path possible. If you use up more calories than you grow, you’re done. How many folks get a positive return on energy invested from their gardens? Most folks like to eat every day so multiply these figures by 365. That will take you through the winter so you can start all over again if you live.

    My wife grows a couple of tomato plants for the fun of it. That’s all she has time for. She probably gets 20 tomatoes per year. That’s 1/5 of the daily calorie needs of one man for one day. She spends most of her time helping me with the dairy farm. We have a total of 4 man equivalents here so we feed 400 people per day. That’s 1,400,000 calories equivalent per day. I’m not bragging…we are a small farm with output per man average: 350,000 calories, enough for 100 people. This scares the hell out of me. Without fossil fuels, I don’t know how I would even feed myself. I know I will need grains and animal products to get the minimum needed calories. I also know I won’t need to work out to lose weight.

    I’m quitting next year. Too old for this.

  • “If people understood what was going on then there would be more people taking responsibility, more people brainstorming over solutions, and more work being done to avoid global ecological collapse.”


    If the vast majority of people truly understood the magnitude of our dilemma, I seriously doubt that cooler heads would prevail. Those in the scientific community might put their ink to the paper, but society in general would more than likely fall apart rather quickly. I don’t personally have that much faith in humanity as a whole, and I don’t see people sitting around in circles, holding hands and chanting kumbaya.

    That being said, short of a mass media televised event playing over and over for months on end, there is simply no way to get through to people. Many have already tried, including myself. For me, It has mostly been a lesson in how to quickly be cast aside by both friends, and family members.

  • @BC Nurse Prof says “Keep a foot in both worlds and ride this sucker all the way down. Then step off.” That really stuck with me. I took whatever I could get from the mainstream world, played their game, took every advantage I could manage, and now I’m stepping off, partially. I will take further steps off as things get worse.”

    And that, my friends, is the ultimate point of my message. You either get in there and play the game to the fullest extent, or you divorce yourself from it entirely.

    As a bona fide, “made member” of the educational-industrial complex, Guy would have had to realize that he was facilitating having young people enter into debt covenants that were non-dischargeable, even in bankruptcy. Now, was that really his problem? Besides, where the fuck were their parents? So, you end up going whole hog, trying to devour as many of these clueless morons as possible in a blood thirsty frenzy to pad your own current income + retirement account.

    Alternatively, you exit the system in its entirety. You’re never alarmed, you’re never taken by surprise – you know the score and play it that way. For example, let’s say you live in a coal mining region. You know about peak oil, you know that mountaintop mining is the next logical process. Do you stay and protest, or do you quietly sell and get the hell out of Dodge? Ditto for fracking – do you stick around, or do you bail?

    I can go on, but I think you get the point. To survive in this world, you need to be smart. More than ever, it really hurts to be stupid. Smart people don’t waste emotional energy getting angry and/or depressed. Reacting is about as relevant as being shocked with the falcon swoops out the sky to snatch a pigeon in an explosion of feathers. It is what it is.

    What I would like to know is who ever promoted the idea that ‘positive’ change could be implemented? How did this come to be some kind of admired trait? How is the belief structure in institutions, in ‘democracy’ any different than someone brought up in a religious household? Why, for Pete’s sake, are young people willing given up the god’s of ego?

    Think about the archetypical loser in Las Vegas. With a $1k roll and playing the $20/hand table, he can’t seem to figure out why the attractive hostess is bringing him free drinks, smiling at him, and in general giving him the time of day. Talk about puffing ones ego! So how are all these earnest protestors any different? Has no one clued them into how the system works? Or are they being played, just like the down-and-outer, to serve the real purposes of those encouraging such activities?

    Ego, the downfall of all who ignore its allure. Whether or not 7 billion have already proceeded the 7b currently alive, there’s a famous epitaph that should remind everyone that they are not unique:

    Quod tu es, ego fui, quod ego sum, tu eris // As you are now, we once were, as we are now, you shall become.

    See the world for what it is, and play accordingly. I can promise that you’ll learn to love the sunrise, to take joy in watching the birds & bees buzz around emerging blossoms. Just keep your eyes open, and be prepared to move on down the line if things begin to look like your zone is going to become a quick snack for the dying industrial machine.

  • @DMD says “Let’s get real about food.”

    Sonofabitch, now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty from some really informed people. Leave it to a science professor to explain what’s happening with respect to AGM, a medical doctor & nursing professor to explain real-world health, and an experienced farmer to lay out the cold hard facts about food production.

    I think I may have mentioned that we have quite the extensive urban ‘farm’ in our backyard; probably not more than 1:1000 have a setup like ours. It was always a hobby from the git-go, but from the start, I took the time to put in raised beds, drip irrigation, a composting station, etc.

    A few years ago, as it began to become quite apparent of where we’re heading, and as a moderately successful finance-business guy, I was looking for a new opportunity. Aw, backyard (or front yard) farming! Hell, I’d corner the market on irrigation products, or a combo organic/chem fertilizer processing facility, and set up a network of consulting operatives demonstrating how people could become more self-sufficient as food prices began to rise.

    Laughing-out-load … at myself. Well, it doesn’t take long to realize (unless you’re awfully stupid) that it’s essentially impossible to scale up enough production to feed one person for a year, much less a family. It simply is untenable, and a real eye-opener to see how dependent society is on commercial farmers like DMD.

    So, keep it up fellas – let’s hear the real deal. Perhaps we could start a new/old religion, one that advocates partying on, brother, because humanity has really gotten itself far up a box canyon, and we are truly, irrevocably fucked.

  • The TEN PERCENT scenario really reminds me of the 1ooth Monkey principal which has been applied to human consciousness. I think this is a fact and it does happen. We here in Australia are fighting very very hard and we have toppled METGASCO / DART ENERGY and WOODSIDE PETROLEUM so I think we are doing a fine job but it is a matter of keeping the pressure on 24/7 and forget Christmas and holidays. This kind of greed does not recognise this. Dig in for the long fight and stay consistent …

  • Yeah, everything is JUST fine!

    Arctic Nearly Free of Summer Sea Ice During First Half of 21st Century, Experts Predict

    ..before 2050 and possibly within the next decade or two

    Try before the end of this summer!

  • Last year’s huge drought was a freak of nature that wasn’t caused by man-made global warming, a new federal science study finds.

    Last two hundred millennia’s Homo sapiens was also a freak of Nature, some old studies have found.

    This is one of those events that comes along once every couple hundreds of years,

    And hereafter continues to repeat annually, perhaps?

    either you are part of the Resistance or you are part of the Collapse.

    But in either case, you are on a Titanic with no prospect whatsoever of rescue, even from the lifeboats.

    My friend from biology yesterday said, “But in WWII people planted victory gardens when they believed it would help the war effort. This war is much bigger. Why can’t we mount a campaign like that now?”

    Well, at that time, we knew who the enemy was. Now we don’t know or don’t want to know who the enemy is. We haven’t seen the enemy, because the enemy is us.

    Thanking someone is not a custom in Eastern traditions. To thank someone is to indicate that they have done something quite unusual – unnatural for them to do, judged by one’s expectations of their behaviour. This implies that one has a much lower opinion (and hence much lower expectations) of the other person.

    There was an (non-Red) Indian doctor at the place where I worked, who took it in stride when I thanked him in public, but got quite annoyed if I thanked him in private.

  • Here’s another..

    Warmest Summers in Last Two Decades in Northern Latitudes Were Unprecedented in Six Centuries

  • To those who say that only the “collapse of industrial civilization” might possibly avert NTE, I’d answer that such a collapse is happening already and is inevitable, so long as we conceive “industrial civilization” as taking a shape similar to the present one. That civilization is going out, as I see it, regardless of our choices.

    But we can choose, or so it seems to me, a less horrific and destructive path through the collapse of civilization-as-we-know-it than the default path (let’s call it). The default path would be the path through collapse in which everything goes willy-nilly in every or any direction, as if we were not able to choose anything intelligent at all. Frankly, that’s the path we seem to be on, as the dominant world system/s are apparently mindless automatons seeking quarterly profits while eliminating any evidence of immune response from intelligent life.

    But we are intelligent life, and so I hold out hope that the default setting isn’t the only possibilty at hand.

  • J. R. Martin, If intelligence were an advantage, there would be more of it around in other species. Eyes are very popular as well as hearing.

    However, you have a good point. If collapse takes a couple of decades, we need to live through it for a while. Not everyone will hang it up the day the stock market goes down or the day the grid goes down. Most think food will be the first big concern.

  • There is no way I could sustain two people with the garden I have. Im not that good at it, and every tomato costs $17. Still, I put beaucoup time into it. At least it isn’t poison.

    money quote of the day:

    “Keep a foot in both worlds and ride this sucker all the way down. Then step off.” That really stuck with me. I took whatever I could get from the mainstream world, played their game, took every advantage I could manage, and now I’m stepping off, partially. I will take further steps off as things get worse.”

    -via BCNurse

  • “If collapse takes a couple of decades, we need to live through it for a while.”

    Nobody knows for sure if collapse will take the form of a sheer cliff or a somewhat gradual, though somewhat steep-ish, slope. I figure that the more of us who comprehend the situation the better. There is simply no maintaining of BAU, and we should want as many of our neighbors to know this as possible. And if they do? We might create the somewehat gradual slope instead of having the steep cliff to fall from.

    I’m not 100% convinced that current atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations must inevitably cause NTE. I doubt anyone knows that for certain. But surely the risk of it is real, and it should indeed be treated as an emergency. We might possibly make it by the skin of our teeth — and preserve just enough biodiversity to have a habitable world. But that would be a kind of miracle. I get that. So let us try to create such a miracle. I’m surely not going to wait for a Man in the Sky to do it for us!

  • Quod tu es, ego fui, quod ego sum, tu eris // As you are now, we once were, as we are now, you shall become.

    In my dorm in college, there was a peculiar girl who put up an 18th-century gravestone rubbing in our communal bathroom. I believe the epitaph went like this:

    Stop, passenger, as you pass by
    And on my grave but cast an eye

    Your sun, like mine, may set at noon
    Your soul be called for very soon

    In this dark place you soon shall be
    Prepare for death and follow me

    I think there may have been one other couplet in there…

  • BC Nurse Prof Says: Is it better if you have your own private plane and have your pilot fly you to Paris for lunch and back to Denver for supper? Never having to stand in the humiliating security check lineups at the airport, but simply being waved by as you walk the carpet to your plane with a blonde bimbo on your arm, get a blow job on the way there and toast with champagne on the way back? These people think they are so happy, but they aren’t.

    Is it worth it to cheat, steal, and lie,
    Always screwing the other guy?
    While it’s evil, no doubt,
    Someone ought to find out,
    So I’m willing to give it a try.

  • New Study: Greenhouse Gases Make High Temps Hotter in China

    “China, the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide, is directly feeling the man-made heat of global warming, scientists conclude in the first study to link the burning of fossil fuels to one country’s rise in its daily temperature spikes.

    “China emits more of the greenhouse gas than the next two biggest carbon polluters — the U.S. and India — combined. And its emissions keep soaring by about 10 percent per year.”

    “…The study by Chinese and Canadian researchers found that just because of greenhouse gases, daytime highs rose 0.9 degree Celsius (1.7 degrees Fahrenheit) in the 46 years up to 2007. At night it was even worse: Because of greenhouse gases, the daily lows went up about 1.7 degrees Celsius (3 degrees Fahrenheit).”

    More at:

  • Pat, Kathy C., Paul, B9K9, Robin, BC nurse, and especially Wester. Great comments.
    Wester, great mix of logic and rant. This is the best of NBL!
    Thanks to all for such a spirited exchange.

  • Debbie Flynn

    Good to have you nearby.


    I take your point about the nitty gritty about producing food and the limitations of scaling up.

    I have a more modest series of bit gardens, and as a renter it is even more of an experiment than it may have been were I to own in a good sunny location.

    I realised several seasons ago it was not going to be possible either. I had to face that reality, and decided there may be a way to produce what grows really well in my location, and stick to maybe 5-10 types of vegetables and a few fruits, and ‘bank’ on, (bank – will it ever get to be a dirty word?) a surplus to trade or gift in the local area.

    It is not going to be one type of situation that works for everyone, but I have concluded that sharing has got us to the stone age, and some ways in between there and now, and it will get us through,(if it is species-possible, this time.

    The food will loom much bigger soon for a lot of humans, and probably in the non-Anex-1 nations first, as is already occurring.

    Some recent brainiac coined the term ‘Anthropocine’ to describe and acknowledge the period of human impact on the Earth systems like world climate, plastic rocks, etc.

    I think I would like to put a name to the first period of the Anthropocine. I’d like to suggest this be called the Colaborocine, and it is thinking positive I’ll admit. If human extinction does eventuate, this can be capped by the abrupt emergence of the Bybyocine.

    All + Australians

    Here come the drones.

    I knew there was a ‘big’ reason both sides of politics were playing the xenophobia card on refugees.

    Them USA GIs in Darwin can now do their thing in keeping watch on Chinese Naval power deployment.

    ‘Coalition to bring in the drones against asylum boats’

    A quote:

    “Unmanned aerial drone surveillance will form part of a Coalition government’s measures to halt the flow of asylum seeker boats, defence spokesman Senator David Johnston has said.

    He also suggested officers on Customs and Navy boats in remote international waters would be given the job of deciding whether asylum seekers were genuine.

    Senator Johnston said on Thursday that the opposition would spend $1.5 billion on seven drones and aim to have them patrolling Australia’s waters and international waters within four to five years.

    He said that currently 90 per cent of asylum seekers intercepted at sea were taken to Christmas Island.

    Senator Johnston was speaking after a boat carrying 66 asylum seekers arrived from Sri Lanka at the WA town of Geraldton on Tuesday, saying they were trying to get to New Zealand. The group will be taken to Christmas Island to assess their claims.

    ”Obviously given the threats at the moment and the fact that we’ve had a boat come all the way down to Geraldton, obviously seven might need to be rethought,” Senator Johnston told the ABC.

    ”But they do have up to a 42-hour loitering or flying time, endurance time, such that it just gives us a huge capability.”

    Senator Johnston said that once boats were detected, surface craft would be sent after them to intercept the boats and to turn them around where it was safe to do so, and with the co-operation of the countries they had left.

    ”Now we would anticipate intercepting them at a much earlier stage with this platform,” he said….”

    Wow!…’threats..’ and ‘platform…’….’intercepting…’

    Sounds very….military.

    Look, it is clear the liberal coalition ‘feels’ from their spin-digital-surveillance-media-monitoring that they are going to win the next federal election, and can chance escalating the obvious weaponising of Australia, against China, and screw all of the people.

    Now lets see…

    most Australians now have gps-ed mobile devices….and a two year stored history of where and when they may be at regular locations(by probability)…. and drones can be sent anywhere(after the initial implementation just for ‘coastal duty’ to keep ‘others’ out)….

    and who would know what was going through the data of the drones because they will be run on military ‘platforms’….

    Now is that going to be the final nail in any semblance of Democracy?

    Damn sure.

    It is gone here too.

    Australia. Democracy End Date: September 14, 2013.

    Remember to vomit up completely the Industrial/Finance economy before going bush(not the Bush, just into the bush).

    Nausea rising already.

    Calling al cars, calling all cars, anyone near the Blue Mountains, we need help, I need help.

    need to talk to someone who understands this particular mix of vomit inducing FUBAR.

    Guy give anyone my email to get in touch.

    Need to smoke the peace pipe(no disrespect there).

    Please call back…

  • ‘Asylum boat spotted day before Geraldton arrival’

    A quote:

    “It is believed there were a number of sightings of a boat carrying asylum seekers along the West Australian coast before it arrived in Geraldton earlier this week.

    The boat, carrying 66 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, shocked locals when it arrived about 100 metres off Geraldton’s foreshore about midday on Tuesday.”


    How do you suppose that little boat just snuck by…?

    We obviously need some better surveillance to counter the ‘threat’….

    But Oh…yes…. that nice man Tony Abbot, leader of the liberal coalition will help us to get those big ‘threatening asylum seekers’ all sorted out by spending 1.5 Billion on some bottom shelf drones(more will follow).


  • Dairymandave – If collapse takes a couple of decades, we need to live through it for a while. Not everyone will hang it up the day the stock market goes down or the day the grid goes down.

    I agree not everyone will hang it up when the stock market goes down. The grid is another thing. In 3 days the grocery stores will have no more food (and what they had in coolers and freezers) will be rotten. No one without a hand pump well, or near a body of water will have water after the water companies’ generators run out of fuel. That means that toilets can’t be flushed. Hospitals will be out of business after their generators run out of fuel. The day the grid goes down everyone will have exactly what gasoline is in their car. Oh my dog, no more TV. But some in the hinterland will know how to manage. But then one week after the grid goes down and the diesel for the generators at the nuclear power plants runs out, reactors start to go critical and fuel pools start to burn. Nothing will be done to prevent them from melting down and burning up. One week after the grid goes down, particulate from industrial production falls out of the sky and warming increases as dimming lessens. From this point on every forest fire burns unimpeded.

    No maybe not everyone will hang it up then….but when I am sure the grid is down for good, I probably will….if looters haven’t handled that for me.

  • Kathy C; There may be years of on and off grid such as in India. Or years where fuel and electricity are so expensive that J6P can’t afford any. Those will be the gray years, not black or white.

  • Dairymandave I’ll use up my second post of the day to respond, because its going to be a great day for gardening :)

    What about an EMP attack by N. Korea North Korea EMP attack could destroy U.S. – right now

    OTOH the one talking about this seems to be mainly F. Michael Maloof – who is F. Michael Maloof is a former Defense Department official who worked as an analyst in a controversial Pentagon policy outfit—sometimes referred to as the Office of Special Plans—whose work was the subject of various official investigations because of allegations that it produced inaccurate intelligence aimed at justifying the invasion of Iraq.[1] In December 2001, Maloof was stripped of his security clearance and forced to go on leave apparently as a result of his connections to a Lebanese-American businessman named Imad El Haje,who was being investigated for his alleged involvement in a gun-running scheme to Liberia.[2]
    So we can perhaps take what he says with a grain of salt. OTOH this leads us to wonder just what these old bogey men are up to now.

    But per Nature World News Solar Storms And Other Activity Will Rise As Sun Roars Back To Life In 2013 (google the title – don’t want to send this into moderation by 2 links in a post and this is it for me for today)

  • Pat, you’re exactly right. Each person who posts on or reads this website – or any other – is part of the system that is destroying the earth. Unfortunately, the alternative is extremely difficult because you can’t go half way; either you leave the system completely and become a hunter/gatherer, or you take part in it. Fifty years ago a person might have found it easier to check out, but not today.

    Example: let’s say that I want to stop having anything to do with industrial society. First, I decide to get off the grid, give up my computers, cell phones, etc. And that’s where I hit my first snag. Actually, I’ve tried to do this but if I chose to remain a licensed physician, I can’t. The reasons are many so I won’t waste time detailing them now, but suffice it to say that if I wish to keep my license, I must have connection to the grid.

    Of course, I could decide to give up my license and just live off my land using nothing derived from fossil fuels. The problem there becomes one of paying the government their “due”. I guess I could sell my excess food products. But, as Dairyman Dave, B9K9, and others have noted, it is really difficult to feed oneself without the stuff fossil fuels give us much less have enough to feed others as well as excess for sale. I haven’t even mentioned that I still have a mortgage to pay. With the exception of the seeds which I buy from outside sources, I garden now using nothing derived from fossil fuels except the few hand tools I use. My results are abysmal with respect to survival. The calories I provide for our consumption might provide a few weeks of total caloric need. Maybe.

    So, that leaves the option of checking out. Walking away. Living off the “bounty” of the forest, eating foods that I find and/or hunt and kill – not with a gun, mind you, but with a handcrafted bow and arrow or a stick. The idea of that would actually be funny if it wasn’t so serious. I’m not sure I’d last more than a few days, if that. And what about my partner who has even fewer survival skills than I do? And my 81 year old mother who lives with us half of the time? We must also take into account that in most areas of the world the forests are much, much smaller and wildlife numbers are greatly reduced.

    The point is, a vanishingly small number of us can survive without the industrial economy. The system has been designed to make us totally dependent on it and it’s worked like a charm. There is no gray. You’re either part of the system or you’re most likely dead in less than a week.

    So, if we are to do anything to prevent NTE (I’m not convinced it’s possible to do so, btw), we must work from within the system. There is no other way. Any other efforts will be crushed by the system because the industrial god is a jealous god and must not be defied.

  • The REAL Dr. House Says:

    “The point is, a vanishingly small number of us can survive without the industrial economy. The system has been designed to make us totally dependent on it and it’s worked like a charm. There is no gray. You’re either part of the system or you’re most likely dead in less than a week.

    So, if we are to do anything to prevent NTE (I’m not convinced it’s possible to do so, btw), we must work from within the system. There is no other way. Any other efforts will be crushed by the system because the industrial god is a jealous god and must not be defied.”

    Is there no “grey”? I know of people who live overwhelmingly off the grid, but they’re not quite stone age primitivists. One example is Ziggy, who lives at Dancing Rabid Ecovillage. (See links below.)

    Ziggy built himself a tiny cob house out of mostly locally available, natural materials, and lives surrounded by gardens. His little house is wood heated and without electricity or indoor plumbing. I remember reading that he borrows a computer now and then, but generally eschews modern industrial products and systems. Ziggy’s carbon footprint is probably pretty tiny.

    gobcobatron in yes! magazine

  • typo correction. That’s Dancing Rabbit, not Dancing Rabbid – sorry!

  • Some more food facts to think about. We set up this dairy operation about 35 years ago. It was “modern” then, top notch. Now, sorry to say, we are having trouble selling it; it isn’t modern enough.

    To milk a cow on this farm, which includes cooling and storing the milk at 36F, it takes 29 motors. To feed a cow, it takes 11 motors. Then there is the field work done with 5 diesel tractors, the newest one purchased new in 1980. The oldest is a 50s, one of the first diesels.

    We intend to sell the 84 cows next March and keep the real estate and machinery. I am responsible for 480 acres of land (most we own) so must continue to pay land taxes. We have all kinds of water; 2 ponds, 2 streams, many springs (one is 10gpm) and a great drilled well. We have about 20 acres of woods. Will sell hay crop to area farmers to pay the taxes. May keep a few heifers. Frankly, I don’t really know what to do with the place, so this plan allows options. It all depends on the “weather”.

  • Dr House – I have also been thinking about the fact that if more and more people need to heat with wood, it will not take long to decimate the forests, which has already happened in many areas of the world. Add to that how little common sense most people have, and I can imagine that street trees will be the first to go.

    My parents rented out a farm property years ago and the fools actually cut a huge tree on the NW corner of the house that made the un-air-conditioned house quite comfortable in the hot Arkansas summers. They cut this healthy, green tree for firewood when they were surrounded by 120 acres of forest full of trees down and seasoned, and easy to drive right up to. Go figure. It took five months to evict them (for non-payment of rent), which was only accomplished by the Sheriff confiscating their horses and holding them until full payment was received and they had all moved (a bunch of their relatives had moved into the barn). I would expect more of this behavior in the future.

  • @ Melissa

    “I agree with B9K9 and many many others on this blog, resistance is futile. Where do you think Greenpeace gets the funds to run around chasing whale hunters? Probably from corporations that have an economic interest in stopping whale hunting, not because they really give a damn about whales.”

    You seriously think those who have dedicated their lives, often times putting their own lives at risk to fight for something they strongly believe in, are only doing it for the money?

    Are you serious?

    Obviously, who haven’t a clue as to what you’re attempting to dismiss. But for sake of remaining civil, all I’ll say, is commits like that makes it very hard to remain so.

  • Michael Thomas.

    Still nice to hear voices like yours.
    Personally gave up on this 10 years ago.

    Still sounds like fun but, esp. when for
    certain as now, there is NOTHING to loose.

    Fuck, imma gonna have some more fun.


  • @ Daniel

    Are you serious?
    Obviously, who haven’t a clue as to what you’re attempting to dismiss. But for sake of remaining civil, all I’ll say, is commits like that makes it very hard to remain so.

    Hahahaha, yes, indeed. Astounding ignorance, over and over again. Patience, fortitude and restraint, brother, these things are sent to test our mettle, eh :-)

    Not that Greenpeace is perfect, either, it’s morphed and split, and sprouted mutants, but once upon a time, it shone…. and the money came from selling badges and stickers, and from people like me busking in the street singing ‘save the whale’ songs on Brighton promenade.